The Scottish Government has created a new position as part of the recent reshuffle for a housing and welfare minister. Margaret Burgess MSP, whose constituency is Cunninghame South in Ayrshire, has been appointed to the role. The previous role that incorporated housing was the transport and housing minister reporting to the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment. First minister Alex Salmond said the reason for change is "reflecting the importance of housing in aiding economic recovery and also the challenges facing those in poverty". Deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon has moved from Cabinet Secretary of Health and Wellbeing to Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities.
Ms Burgess is a former manager with Citizens Advice Bureau and is still an elected board member for the national charity. Commenting on the appointment of Ms Burgess, director of Shelter Scotland, Graeme Brown, said: "The minister takes over at a time of real opportunity and tough challenges - the opportunity afforded by Scotland’s historic 2012 commitment to give every unintentionally homeless person in Scotland the right to a home and the challenges of addressing the needs of homeless and badly housed families and individuals to end Scotland’s housing crisis for good."
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has welcomed the new Minister for Housing and Welfare, and the new Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, to their positions. SFHA Chief Executive Dr Mary Taylor said: “As the national body for housing associations and co-operatives, the SFHA is delighted to welcome Margaret Burgess to her new role as Minister for Housing and Welfare and Nicola Sturgeon to the role of Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities.We particularly welcome the inclusion of welfare alongside the housing policy brief, as welfare reform is the biggest challenge currently facing social housing tenants generally in Scotland, and housing association and co-operative landlords."
Ms Sturgeon takes over from Alex Neil MSP who held the role of Cabinet Secretary since May 2011 after being promoted from Housing and Communities minister. He has now been appointed Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing.